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Exercising vs. Training

As summer winds down, and we approach ‘fall back to fitness’, many will be seeking the fitness routine they had before summer shenanigans. So as you get back into your routine, ask yourself – are you training or are you just exercising?

Exercise and training might often be used as synonymous terms, but there are a few important distinctions between the two. Exercise can best be thought of as physical activity that serves an immediate purpose and effect. It is done for its own sake, whether that is during the workout or immediately after. This “effect” or “purpose” can include burning calories, getting a pump on, getting sweaty, or as a way to blow off steam & de-stress. Training, on the other hand, is utilizing physical activity to achieve a definite performance objective, which is often long-term. The difference between exercise and training is a question of intention.

Training is a process designed to achieve a specific result. It is a pre-determined progression of activity designed to satisfy a long-term performance goal. Training is less about the workouts individually than it is about the process of utilizing the workouts to reach the ultimate training goal, or the cumulative effect of the individual workouts. The results are reached by progressing week after week, tracking progress and adjusting as needed. Training is about long-term improvement for a specific purpose, which often means displacing the immediate feeling of having achieved a goal until that goal is realized down the line.

The primary goal of exercise is, generally, to keep you healthy. Exercising can produce immediate results, and results over the long term even; however, training is deciding on a goal and using physical activity to achieve that goal. Long-term results from consistent exercise are a welcome by-product but are not the outcome of intentional physical activity. Any program that features exposure at random to various types of physical stress cannot produce a specific physical adaptation. Past a certain point the adaptation that occurs naturally with exercise will stop, a point that occurs relatively quickly.

Should we all be training? Not necessarily. It’s more about your specific goals. If the goal is to maintain health, exercising might be sufficient, and the most important thing would then be to choose exercise options that motivate you to continue and be consistent. Jumping from program to program or choosing random workouts can be a great way to exercise without getting bored. For those who have specific goals, a long-term training program with trackable results is more appropriate.

Kristen Hansen, BA, CSEP-CPT, PFT-NAIT, NASM-CES, FRCms
SVPT Fitness & Athletics

Why Hire a Personal Trainer?

It’s simple — hiring an SVPT certified personal trainer can take out the confusion and guess work about proper training as well as reduce the risk of injury. In the long run personal training can help save you time and money all while getting you fitter and healthier, and living a fuller life.

  1. Assessment
    Many of you are doing exercises and programs that just aren’t suited for your body, fitness level, or goals. This is why many exercise and see no results.  Assessments can teach you about the imbalances, strengths and weaknesses in your body. Assessments help SVPT personal trainers create a program that is individually suited to you so you can train to your full potential, without wasting time and risking injury.
  2. Knowledge
    Hiring a personal trainer is an investment. During your sessions, you will learn the how and why to train effectively, efficiently, and safely. We educate you so you can take away as much knowledge as possible, so when the time comes you can train on your own, and do so with confidence. We expect you to leave the nest eventually, in fact that is our goal, is to have you feel so educated and confident, that you can train on your own. When you leave the nest it means we have done our jobs in teaching you how to train properly.
  3. Motivation
    We all struggle with training motivation at some point. A personal trainer can give you the extra little kick in the butt when you struggle. We can’t do the work for you and we can’t make you want it, but we can give you a little nudge in the right direction.
  4. Accountability
    Accountability is strongly tied to motivation. A personal trainer can keep you on track with your goals so you can get the results you seek. Life can get in the way, and usually the first thing to go is exercise. Consistency is the key to success, and having someone to hold you accountable can keep you consistent and on track.
  5. Goal Setting
    Sometimes we want everything all at once, but that is usually a little unrealistic and overwhelming. Our personal trainers can help you set realistic fitness goals that are achievable and in-line with your lifestyle, fitness level and budget.

So now that you know the WHY, learn what you should be looking for in a personal trainer and check out our blog from January 2018 – “What Makes a Good Personal Trainer?

Shara Vigeant, BA, NSCA-CPT*D, CFSC

No Trends, No Fads, No Quick Fixes

Some might say what we do at SVPT is boring.  From a certain point of view that is true, as we aren’t sexy, we aren’t flashy, and maybe the cool kids don’t dig us.  But what we are great at is teaching you to master your movement and build fitness that will ultimately make you a bad-ass in life…….for the long term, not just for the next 2 months.

There is no screaming at you, making you puke, or trying to crush your soul.   We believe in building you up, not breaking you down.  I mean, isn’t that the reason you started exercising in the first place – to feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally? No one likes to walk away from a workout feeling worse than when they walked in.

It’s not about being flashy or sexy, cool or stylish – it’s about building fundamental movement skills through challenging fitness fun.  Mastering fundamentals reduces injuries, slows aging, and builds a body that allows you to live a fuller life. When you move better, you live better.  Isn’t that what fitness is supposed to be about? Living a better and more full life, because you are physically able to.

We frequently get asked, “Hey have you seen the latest fitness trend _______ on social media?”.  We see it.  We have cringed at it, and we don’t do it.  We don’t get caught up in the latest social media phenoms.   (And we won’t name any of the current trends/fads out there, because this is not about bashing them, it’s about explaining why we don’t buy into them.)

Training trends and fads are usually the ‘latest and greatest’ exercise, system, or concept to gain attention in the fitness industry or achieve notoriety on social media.  However, just as the latest diet and fashion trends die off, training fads and trends will fade.  And after they fade, you will see many coaches and trainers reverting back to tried and true ‘boring’ systems, because they work.

Boring works.  Simple is genius.  So yeah, we are kind of geniuses.

While we do continuously educate ourselves about the “new” fitness trends, we have found that the common themes of most good fitness systems in our industry involve simplicity.  As we continue our education, we continue adding more tools to our training toolbox.  But more importantly, we learn through experience when it is appropriate to use those tools.  This would include knowing when to use non-traditional or “fancy” implements such as kettlebells, bands, chains, TRX, stability balls, etc. We also know when and when not to use more advanced training methods such as eccentric training, tempo, volume, etc.

A lot of the trends and fads can be effective (for a time), but it comes down to understanding if these trends and fads serve the client’s purpose and goals LONG TERM, because we want to see you continue with your fitness, not blast a 30 day challenge twice a year.  Quick fixes in fitness are just that – quick.  Often not long lasting.  Building fitness is a skill and takes time, just like any other skill.  If you are jumping around from trend to trend, you are more than likely risking injury and not truly building a solid fitness foundation. A foundation is what you need to sustain fitness for the rest of your life.

Great coaching, efficient programming, and good results will never go out of style. More importantly, they will never stop being effective.  Mastering the basics and building a foundation will never be wasted time, and learning quality movement will always be important.  It’s a matter of understanding when the basics can be modified to make them more challenging and fun, but still effective and safe…not a circus act to post on Instagram that will eventually make the Gym Fails compilation.

So when a client vocalizes their disdain for a certain exercise due to boredom or simply because it is a hard exercise, we remind them of the why.  Something wonderful happens when you explain to a client why they are doing something. They become empowered.  All of a sudden they do that exercise just a little bit better.  Ultimately our job is for you to feel confident enough to leave our little gym nest……FLY BIRDIE FLY!   Our job is to have you not need us anymore, and if we are constantly bouncing from trend to trend, we aren’t giving you the foundations to understand fitness and do it on your own.

You will notice we do not sell anything or push anything flashy, sexy, or trendy on you except good old-fashioned hard work, consistency, and sound programming.  That is the secret, our “secret”.

 

Shara Vigeant, BA, NSCA-CPT*D, CFSC

Functional Fitness

All fitness is functional.  All exercise is functional.

All exercise will help you do daily activities with greater ease, and therefore allow you to live a more full and adventurous life.

When most people see the words “functional fitness”, one of two things usually comes to mind:

  • Some type of circus-act exercise that makes you look absolutely ridiculous.
  • Exercise that looks exactly like the movement you will be doing in life.

We have all seen the crazy circus-type exercises on social media. Cringe.  And I am sure you have seen our commercial, where you will see people doing exercises that mimic everyday activities.

Sled pushes will help you mow the lawn, but so will any well-rounded fitness program that includes general lower body, upper body, and core strength exercises.  Landmine squats with a press will help you lift your child over your head, but so will dumbbell presses and squats, performed independently as part of a complete workout plan. Farmer’s carries will help you carry your groceries, but so will planks or chin-ups.  What we are trying to say is – full disclosure – the people in that video do other exercises too! And those other exercises are no less functional than the exercises they so expertly demonstrate for us on camera.

Functional fitness is typically considered to be less about isolation and more about integration –   all the body parts and systems working together seamlessly to accomplish a task. The more you can train your body to work as a whole, the more you will benefit in everyday life and the more injury-resistant you will be.  When you work your entire body in multiple directions of movement and ranges of motion, you can avoid overuse injury in a single direction or range and instead allow your body to be strong and functional in all of them. This style of training prepares you for anything unexpected that might occur in your day-to-day life. It’s about being proactive, rather than reactive.

Isolation exercises such as bicep curls are often criticized for not being ‘functional’, but if your biceps are a weak link in the chain of your body, then they might be an incredibly functional exercise for you. What counts as functional exercise all comes down to the individual – what is functional for one person might not be for another.  Getting an assessment from a qualified trainer to find anything that may be preventing your body from working as a strong, complete unit – and finding out what exercises are therefore ‘functional’ for you – is a great idea.  Eliminate the guessing game, save time and invest in a proper program (Shameless plug: svptfitness.com)

All consistent fitness and exercise will help you fend off those injuries that happen simply because your body is not strong enough or fit enough to handle the activities you are trying to do every day.  For some, like an older population, that means preventing falls and creating physical independence, and for the younger population that might be preventing a knee blowout at a weekend flag football game, or on that impromptu ski trip.

Finally, functional fitness is a bit more fun and a lot less boring than bicep curls!  Exercises that tend to involve more movement, in multiple directions and range of motion, can add more challenge. Because let’s face it, moving all the parts of your body at once is harder! Think about a bear crawl – fun but hard, and working EVERYTHING – co-ordination, legs, shoulders, arms and all the core in the land.  Does a bear crawl translate into everyday activity? Not straight across (unless you have to bear crawl for a living), but all the things happening when you are doing it will help you – carry groceries, play with your kids, go for a hike, help a friend move…all that great stuff.

So is running on the treadmill or sitting on the bike functional fitness?  YES! Cardiovascular health is super important for heart health and the ability to be able to sustain physical activity and daily activities longer (i.e. mowing the lawn without breaks ). Is chest and bicep day functional fitness?  YES! If upper body strength is your weak link, chest and bi’s will certainly help you in that regard. Of course, what would be even more optimal would be to include additional training that ties those muscles in with the rest of your body.

The takeaway point is – all fitness is functional and all fitness will improve your quality of life!

Shara Vigeant, BA, CPT, CFSC

What Makes a Good Personal Trainer?

A new year usually means health and fitness resolutions.  Many seek help from personal trainers, which is a great investment into accountability, motivation, technique, effectiveness, and efficiency.

The good news?  There are so many fantastic trainers out there.

The bad news?  The health and fitness industry is a billion dollar industry, making it easy for anyone to get ‘certified’ as a personal trainer.  Certifications are available to anyone over a weekend or online in hours and that means there are many bad personal trainers out there.

Trainers that lack proper and thorough education can potentially injure a client, or create a bad experience for the client, and this makes it bad for the good personal trainers out there.

So how do you find a good trainer?   Start with an interview.   You are investing a lot of money and should make sure the person guiding you on this journey is a good fit for you and most importantly, qualified.

Consider these key points in the interview:

Education.  Where did they receive education and/or certification?  Is it accredited?  Google is your friend — look into their certification and education to make sure it is legit.

Experience.  How much experience do they have? Minimal experience isn’t necessarily a bad thing (everyone has to start somewhere).  If they have a solid education and certification, experience might not be an issue for you (this leads to the next point).

References.  Ask for references from current or previous clients.  Even trainers with minimal experience will have references.  Talking to someone who has worked with the trainer can give you valuable information that you might not get directly from the trainer.

Continuing Education.  Since their initial education or certification have they continued to learn, grow, evolve?  A trainer that is always learning is one that that is passionate about their clients and career.  They are always seeking to add more tools to the toolbox and seeking to be better, so they can further help their clients.

Now that you have interviewed the trainer and have found a solid education and background, what characteristics in the trainer should you look for?

Honesty.  You are not hiring them to tell you what you want to hear; it’s about what you NEED to hear.  Sometimes you don’t want to hear what they have to say, but you have hired them to help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your body and lifestyle; and sometimes the truth hurts.

Positive Energy.  There is nothing worse than coming into a session after a tough day, and your trainer is a dull, sad panda.   Their energy should make you want to be there, to push and work harder (and have fun doing it!).

Humor.  Let’s face it, being able to smile and laugh in a challenging training session can make it a little less awful, especially when it comes to doing stuff you do not necessarily like (but need).  Exercise can be fun while working hard, maintaining proper form and focus!

Attention.  They learn about you, your lifestyle and goals and then create training around that, and not force you into a program that is unrealistic.  During the session, their focus is on you, not their cell phones, other people in the gym, or shiny objects passing by.   How can they help you if they don’t pay attention to you?

Professionalism.  They are on time, dress appropriately, follow up with emails/texts/calls regarding your sessions promptly, treat you with respect and talk to you like an adult.  Also, they leave their personal drama at home.

Approachability.  They are easy to approach with concerns or questions.  Nothing is worse than a trainer that is so scary and serious that you are scared to ask questions.

Open Mindedness.  Trainers should be open to other training protocols and what fits for YOU.  There is no ONE right way – it always depends on the client.

Problem Solvers.  They are good at solving problems or at least TRY to solve problems.  They are not scared to say ‘I don’t know’ but will look it up or ask a peer for the answer.  They refer out.  Trainers are not doctors – if they see a problem outside of the scope of our expertise, then they should urge you to see a professional.

Walk the Talk.   The best way for a trainer to relate to and coach a client is by experiencing it themselves.  They should practice what they preach and live a healthy, fit and balanced lifestyle that is consistent with what they are trying to get you to do.

At the end of the day, it comes down to BUYER BEWARE.  Take the trainer for a test drive before committing to 100 sessions.  Buy a few sessions first to make sure it’s a fit!

 

Shara Vigeant, BA, CPT, CFSC